While Prince Charles's visit to the White House lacks the buzz created when his son called on the U.S. president in December, President Barack Obama still cares enough to time a climate-change announcement to the British royal's arrival.
Prince Charles, 66, has adopted climate change as his signature issue and called Earth a "sick patient" because of global warming. Obama on Thursday signed an executive order requiring the U.S. government to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent over the next decade from 2008 levels.
Climate change was to be the chief topic of conversation as Prince Charles, his wife Camilla Parker Bowles, the duchess of Cornwall, and met with Obama Thursday in the Oval Office. The royals are on a three-day Washington tour with Charles returning to the White House for the first time since 2011. He hosted a reception for Obama in September in Wales when world leaders gathered there for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit.
"The conversation is actually going to focus on some of the key areas that I mentioned, including combating climate, creating opportunities for youth, encouraging corporate social responsibility and preserving the deep cultural ties between our two countries," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in a briefing on Tuesday.
Neither Obama nor the prince commented to reporters ushered into the Oval Office to witness the start of their meeting. They chatted about the about the royal visit to Washington, which included stops at Mount Vernon, home of George Washington, and the National Archives.
"It's fair to say that the American people are quite fond of the royal family," Obama told Charles.
"That's awfully nice to know," Charles replied.
"They like them much better than they like their own politicians," Obama said before declining to answer a question about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The conversation with the couple was different than when U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron traveled to Washington in January to back Obama's efforts to strike a nuclear deal with Iran and keep Congress from pressing for additional sanctions until the negotiations conclude. With Prince Charles, Obama planned to stick with softer topics, including corporate social responsibility and preserving historical links between the U.S. and U.K., the White House said.
Prince William, who left his pregnant wife Kate Middleton in New York when he traveled to Washington for the day in December, generated gossip column headlines and sighting messages on Twitter during his first visit to the Oval Office.
His father's arrival is more low-key and much more so by comparison to his visit with the late Princess Diana, his first wife, in 1985. Then, instead of an Oval Office conversation, President Ronald Reagan hosted a gala dinner for the couple.
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